By a strange coincidence it is precisely a year and a day since I reviewed the outstanding Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18, an expensive but immensely capable 18x zoom, 8.1-megapixel super-zoom bridge camera and arguably the best of its type, at least until recently.
The camera market moves on however, and there have been several recent launches of more powerful 10-megapixel bridge camera or super-zoom models from rival manufacturers, such as the 20x zoom Olympus SP-570 UZ (£285), the 18x zoom Nikon Coolpix P80 (£225), and the 18x zoom Fujifilm S8100fd (£185).
Not surprisingly then, Panasonic has recently launched the new Lumix DMC-FZ28, an 18x zoom, 10.1-megapixel super-zoom bridge camera, an upgrade of the FZ18 which is obviously intended not just to keep up with the Joneses, but to try and keep one step ahead of them. It's an expensive camera at the moment, but then it's only just been launched. Give it a few months and the price should come down to more realistic levels.
At first glance the FZ28 looks identical to the FZ18, with a body design almost unchanged since the FZ8; in fact looking at the pictures above you’d be hard-put to spot any difference at all. The external differences are indeed very subtle. The LCD monitor is a little larger, but an increase from 2.5 to 2.7 inches isn’t exactly Earth-shattering. The surround of the viewfinder eyepiece is a slightly different shape, but is still made from glasses-scratching hard plastic, there is a small difference in the options on the main mode dial, and the right-hand side of the camera now sports a small hatch concealing the component video output connector, a new feature for the FZ28 which allows it to be connected to a HD TV. Oh, and the pattern of holes over the microphone are slightly different. I bet you missed that one, didn’t you?